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Fri 15th Nov 2013 - Benugo, Coffee Republic, Star Pubs, Wellington, Whitbread

Story of the Day:

Spirit brews special beer for Taylor Walker chain: Spirit Pub Company has commissioned a special beer for its Taylor Walker chain of upmarket pubs which has links with the original Taylor Walker brewery. The beer, called 1730 Special Pale Ale, after the year that the brewery that became Taylor Walker was founded in Limehouse, East London, was launched last night in 20 of the chain’s pubs in London. It is due to be rolled out across all 115 Taylor Walker pubs, 96 of them in London, the rest ranging from Brighton to St Andrews and Colchester to Bath. The beer, a session-strength pale ale, is brewed by the Westerham Brewery in Kent using yeast from the original Bushell Watkins and Smith brewery in Westerham, which was itself taken over by Taylor Walker in 1948, closing in 1965, and four different varieties of hops, including Bramling Cross. It is believed Spirit is contemplating commissioning up to two more beers to be sold under the Taylor Walker name. Taylor Walker ran as a brewery until 1959, by which time it controlled more than 1,300 pubs. It was take over by the Romford brewer Ind Coope, which later became Allied Breweries. In 2010 Punch Taverns licensed the Taylor Walker name from Carlsberg, which acquired Allied’s brewing business and all its beer brands in the 1990s, for top-end pubs in its then managed pub arm, which was demerged as Spirit in 2011.

Industry News:

Host of companies sign up for Propel Multi-site Management Masterclass: Prezzo, Loungers, TGI Friday’s, Stonegate Pub Company, All Our Bars, Giggling Squid, G1 Group, Maclay Group, Anglian Country Inns, Charles Wells, Snug Bars, Domino’s UK, Bulldog Hotel Group, Yummy Pubs and K10 are among the companies already signed up for the Propel Multi-Site Management Masterclass, launched yesterday in partnership with Professor Christian Edger. The one-day masterclass, to be held on Thursday 9 January, will provide insights on the skills required for effective multi-site management. Professor Edger’s seminar, which will include input from industry leaders, looks at how the UK’s most admired companies operate multi-site units effectively and what winners do and losers don’t. The seminar also examines the essential practices of effective multi-site managers and how successful multi-site companies accelerate the development of multi-site managers. Tickets are £295 for ALMR members and £345 for non-ALMR members. To book or find out more, e-mail The event will be held at Tanner & Co, 50 Bermondsey Street, London SE1.

YO! Sushi and Waitrose to feature new yuzu super-food: A Japanese citrus fruit described as the next superfood because of its high level of vitamin C is to go on the menu at YO! Sushi and feature at Waitrose. Yuzu, which until now could only be found in the UK on restaurant menus and in specialist Asian food shops, will appear on Waitrose shelves this weekend in the form of a Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients juice selling for £4.59 for a 60ml bottle. YO! Sushi is adding a dish that includes a salsa made of yuzu to its menu later this month. Yuzu has been used in Asian cooking for centuries, and Waitrose said demand for the fruit had grown as customers became more familiar with Japanese cuisine. YO! Sushi said the fruit was “a new flavour for the British palate”. Executive chef Mike Lewis said: “Yuzu looks like a tangerine and tastes similar to a floral lime. It has three times more vitamin C than a lemon, which makes our dish super-healthy.”

McDonald’s spent $42m advertising Happy Meals to children in US last year: The Yale Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity has found that the McDonald’s Happy Meal dominated fast-food TV commercials seen by children. McDonald’s spent $42 million just on Happy Meal adverts in 2012, the researchers estimate. The average child in the US between ages two and 11 saw 185 Chicken McNugget Happy Meal commercials on TV last year, according to Nielsen data used in the report. The next most popular items advertised to children include Burger King’s Kids Meal (23.4 views per year) and Dairy Queen’s DQ Blizzard (22.9 views), although those products trailed the Happy Meal by a wide margin.

Yum! China performance slightly better: Yum! Brands has reported an improved performance in China in October with like-for-like sales down 5% for the month. Like for-likes dropped 7% at KFC, offset by a 10% increase at Pizza Hut Casual Dining. Earlier this year, Yum launched a quality assurance marketing campaign in China called Operation Thunder, which appeared to be helping turn sales around, until new fears of avian flu in several large Chinese cities derailed the company’s momentum.

Three coffees a day may help prevent diabetes: Three coffees a day can reduce the risk of diabetes by a quarter, according to scientists. It is thought that caffeine may burn more fat by improving metabolism and increasing energy expenditure. A study has also suggested that each additional cup reduces the relative risk by between seven and eight per cent.

Company News:

Wellington reports average 4.1% rent uplift: The UK’s largest free-of-tie pub estate, Wellington Pub Company, has reported a 4.1% average rent uplift in its second quarter, alongside annual income in line with last year. In a report to bondholders, the company said: “At the second quarter end, there were 789 public houses in the estate. This is five fewer than the last quarter. The disposal strategy remains to sell bottom end and/or problem properties and those that have a higher alternative use value. 623 pubs (79% of the estate) are let on a long lease. Six properties were re-let on a long lease during the quarter and there were 13 lease forfeitures. The estate is producing an annual income of £27.3m, which is equal to last year. The average level of rental uplift achieved at review in the year was 4.1%. Quarterly bond interest of £2.7m (A-class loan notes – £2.11m, B-class loan notes – £589,000) was paid in July. The issuer surplus at that time was £1.01m, which was paid to the issuer. A-class loan notes to the value of £1.13m were repaid and B-class loan notes to the value of £510,000. After these payments, the company retained circa £15m of cash on deposit. The annualised Ebitda for the 12 months to the end of September 2013 was £18.3m.”

Bath Ales to run bar and restaurant at Bristol concert hall: Bath Ales, the Somerset brewer and pub owner, has won a competitive pitch to run the cafe-bar and restaurant at Colston Hall, the largest concert hall in Bristol. The brewer took over the cafe-bar in the new lower ground floor foyer area at Colston Hall yesterday (Thursday) and will reopen the 40-seater restaurant on the upper ground floor in the new year. Both venues will undergo a refurbishment at the beginning of 2014, “focusing on quality and individuality through both the food offering and décor”, Bath Ales said. Robin Couling, managing director of Bath Ales, which has ten pubs of its own, including the Bristol craft beer bar Beerd, and supplies another 400 outlets, said: “Colston Hall is a landmark institution in the heart of Bristol, so we’re thrilled to be working with the venue and its operator, Bristol Music Trust, to create a dining and drinking experience in line with the developing entertainment offering in the halls. We select our venues extremely carefully, always looking to challenge ourselves and offer something of high quality with a point of difference. This is exactly what we plan to do at Colston Hall.”

JW Lees targets £100m turnover within five years: Brewer and retailer JW Lees is targeting sales of £100m within five years. Turnover for the year to March 31 rose to £59m from £51m the year before. Pre-tax profits grew from £2.9m to £5m. Managing director William Lees-Jones said: “Over the next year, we want to do a lot more exporting and also buy more pubs using our local knowledge. Our goal now is all about how do we get from £59m to £100m over the next five years and if we can do it in three years, great.”

TGI Friday’s Karen Forrester reports success of tapas: TGI Friday’s chief executive, Karen Forrester, has reported the launch of tapas sharing dishes about a month ago have been an enormous success. She said: “In the first two weeks we sold 35,000 tapas dishes, 7% of sales. We want to own social sharing – sharing space, food and drinks. We launched tapas and we wouldn’t launch until we had a product that could stand out, and I think that it really does now.”

Coffee Republic reports progress on franchising: The coffee chain Coffee Republic has reported domestic and international progress in opening franchised sites. The company has opened four new franchised sites in London, at Marble Arch, Bromley, Wood Green and Putney, in its most recent quarter. In addition a new Coffee Republic concept within the Odeon Glasgow is due to open shortly. Richard Shakespeare, Coffee Republic’s franchise sales manager, who joined the company in June, told Propel that another six franchised sites are currently contracted to open, in London and the Home Counties in the next couple of months. Coffee Republic, which runs five directly managed sites in the UK, has just opened franchised sites in both Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan. Coffee Republic is already established in Kuwait, Romania, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Jordan.

Starbucks restates profits after Kraft damages: Starbucks restated its fourth-quarter results this week after an arbitrator ordered the company to pay $2.2 billion in damages and another $527 million in interest and attorneys’ fees to its former packaged-coffee distribution partner, Kraft Foods. The impact of the award, which was applied to the fourth quarter ending 29 September resulted in an operating loss of $1.2 million, or a loss of $1.64 per share. Previously, Starbucks had reported a record fourth quarter, with profit rising 34% to $481.1 million, or 63 cents per share, capping off what the company called the best year in its 42-year history.

Another town centre McDonald’s to close: Another McDonald’s town centre site is to close, this time the restaurant in Scunthorpe High Street which will shut on November 30 after 26 years of trading. The company is blaming trading conditions. Yesterday, Propel reported the town centre McDonald’s in Dewsbury is closing at the end of this month. The company owns the building, and said after 30 November it would be tendered for sale.

Pint Shop in Cambridge opens to rave reviews: The Pint Shop in Cambridge, which opened a week ago and look to recreate the food and drink offer of Victorian pubs, has received rave reviews. One TripAdvisor reviewer, marking it five out of five and calling it “utterly brilliant”, said: “ What a breath of fresh air! The moment that you step through the door into Pint Shop, you know that it is going to deliver on the brand promise etched on the window – beer, meat, bread, gin. Simple food and great beer served by exceptionally knowledgeable and passionate staff. I know this place has just opened and they are still in the honeymoon period, but full marks for enthusiasm and delivery! Beer is the focus and their selection of cask, keg and bottled beer is exceptional; unusual and interesting offerings from small bespoke breweries. The beers from Kernel brewery were a particular highlight.”

Sky News – Whitbread starts search for new chairman: Whitbread has begun a search for a successor to Anthony Habgood, its long-serving chairman, according Sky News. The company has appointed headhunters to identify a new chairman to take the helm during 2014. Habgood, who also chairs Reed Elsevier, the publishing and media company, is likely to step down at Whitbread’s annual meeting in June, at which point he will have been on the board for just over nine years, according to a person close to the company.

Benugo to open at the British museum: Cafe and restaurant operator Benugo is to open Great Court Restaurant at the British Museum in January. The redesigned restaurant will enjoy a new look – on a mezzanine floor above the world-famous Reading Room and directly beneath the curved steel and glass roof of the Norman Foster-designed Great Court. It will have a new central restaurant entrance, additional communal dining tables, an open kitchen and a central charcuterie table.

Papa John’s youngest franchisees open third site in eight months: Papa John’s youngest franchisees, Hitesh Patel and Harry Singh, both aged just 26, have opened their third Papa John’s pizza store in the space of eight months. The duo, who both have a background in the pizza industry, have now added Cheltenham Road, Bristol to their successful Papa John’s outlets in Derby and Bristol Fishponds. Patel said: “The new store is close to the highly populated town centre and the brand awareness created by having two shops will be really beneficial. It also means during busy periods we can continue to guarantee great delivery times as we have double the capacity to serve up our top quality pizza.” Last month, Propel reported Papa John’s made its first profit in the UK since 2006. The company saw turnover increase to £28.42m in 2012 from £22.94m the year before. Pre-tax profit was £102,000, a turnaround from a loss of £1.03m the year before. The company added 36 sites in the year to reach a total of 212. It has since added a further 15 by the end of August to have a total estate of 227.

Star Pubs & Bars names top multi-site operators: Star Pubs & Bars, the Heineken-owned operator of 1,300 pubs, has honoured its top multi-site retailers at a ceremony in Birmingham. Carvery Heaven was named as Multiple Operator of the Year. Trading director Chris Jowsey said: “Carvery Heaven’s distinctive carvery offer has transformed under-performing pubs into highly successful businesses across the Midlands. A strategic approach to expansion, a commitment to training and home-growing talent combined with rigorous planning, have created a well structured, robust business with a strong identity. Already a hit at six sites, Carvery Heaven looks set to become one at many more.” New Pub Company was named Retailer of the Year. Jowsey said: “Always cutting edge, always pushing the boundaries, the team at the New Pub Company is innovative in every area of their operation whether it’s cleverly maximising every square foot of trading space or delivering exceptional staff training. Running seven different sites, each with its own individual food and drink offer, requires real skill; the New Pub Company does it superbly and maintains high standards across the board.” Bath Pub Company won an award for Best Outside Area for its Hare and Hounds pub.

Nightclub and coffee shop to open in Huddersfield: A pair of businessmen, Anthony Blyth and Richard Ingram, will open a nightclub this weekend in Huddersfield called The Safe House with a heightened focus on customer safety. Safe House on Market Walk will open at 5pm on Friday and stay open until 4am the next day. Blyth said: “There will be 23 video cameras and the intention is to make the club as safe and relaxing for people as possible.” From November 25 the nightclub will also double up from 10am to 5pm as a coffee and cake shop. For its first Saturday night it has been granted an extension to stay open until 6am on Sunday.

Planning officers back first non-airport Yotel: Plans to build the UK’s first non-airport Yotel, a chain operated by the founder of Yo! Sushi, in Manchester city centre have been recommended for approval. The £17m scheme for the 258-bedroom involves the conversion of the Grade II listed former Union Bank building and construction of a 20-storey building. The listed property has been empty since 2006. Planning officers at Manchester City Council have recommended the scheme be granted planning permission. In a report, the planning officers said: “The successful redevelopment and regeneration of the Piccadilly area and the adjoining regeneration areas is critical to the council’s growth objectives.”

Marston’s opens Crawley new-build: Marston’s has opened its new-build pub restaurant in the Maidenbower area of Crawley, Sussex. The Coaching Halt, in Maidenbower Business Park, off Balcombe Road is targeting families and has both indoor and outdoor children’s play areas. In the 180-seater restaurant section of the pub, customers can try rotisserie chicken cooked in front of them.

Greene King tables homes plan for land in Bury St Edmunds: Greene King is proposing a 24-home development on “under-used” land it owns in Bury St Edmunds. The company is looking to convert Westgate House, Peatlings and a store building, all in Westgate Street, into homes as well as building new homes on largely unused land behind these properties. Residents and businesses have been invited to attend a consultation event from 8am to 6pm on 22 November at Greene King’s Brewery Tap in Westgate Street, where plans will be displayed and they can give feedback.

Couple double up with Greene King acquisition: Sue and Alan Tobin have re-opened the Queen’s Head in Fowlmere, Cambrideshire, a pub with a thatched roof that has been closed for a year and now acquired from Greene King. The couple already own the British Queen in nearby Meldreth. Sue Tobin said: “It’s always been a very popular pub. Many years ago we used to go in a lot, so it holds a place in our hearts, as well as being a business opportunity for us.”

Domino’s names new chief financial officer designate: Domino’s Pizza has appointed Sean Wilkins as chief financial officer designate and David Wild as non-executive director. Wilkins will take up his executive responsibilities as CFO designate with effect from 18 November and Wild will be appointed as a non-executive director with immediate effect. Wilkins is an international finance director, having worked in the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Australia. He will work closely with the company’s current chief financial officer, Lee Ginsberg, until formal handover following Lee’s retirement at the company’s annual general meeting in 2014. Wild is senior independent director on the remuneration committee at Premier Foods. He has previously held senior positions at Halfords, Walmart, Tesco and RHM Foods.

Mitchells & Butlers to open new-build Harvester: Mitchells & Butlers will open a new-build Harvester Salad & Grill, the Ravenswood, in Nacton, Ipswich next Tuesday, creating more than 40 jobs. Daniel Farnell, the Ravenswood Harvester’s manager, said: “We are delighted to have secured such a fantastic site for our new-look Harvester Salad and Grill. The village has great potential and we’re confident that Harvester’s unique offering will prove very popular here.”

Cote eyes Bishops Stortford: Cote has confirmed its interest in moving to the former Pearsons site in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire with a planning application. The company has asked East Hertfordshire Council for permission to install three retractable awnings, a new fascia and a hanging sign at number 15, North Street.

Jamie Oliver partners Canadian supermarket to launch food range: Jamie Oliver have teamed up with Sobeys, Canada’s second largest food retailer, to launch a new line of products, labelled ‘Compliments presents: Jamie Oliver Discovers Canada’. The new line consists of 14 items, ranging from herby lemon flattened chicken made with certified humane chicken and scrumptious seafood pie to sweet cherry focaccia and banoffee cakes. According to a media release, “the classic Canadian dishes with a Jamie Oliver twist were tested and tasted multiple times by the celebrity chef and Sobeys’ product development team. Each meat dish, prepared fresh and ready to cook at home, is made with certified humane poultry, beef or pork.”

Belfast Telegraph – Seamus and Henry Downey to sell four Botanic Inns sites: The Belfast Telegraph has reported that Seamus and Henry Downey are selling four of the former Botanic Inns pubs they bought three weeks ago. The Downeys, who both played when Derry won their only All-Ireland senior title in 1993, are negotiating the sale of Ryan’s and the Parador in Belfast, Denvir’s Hotel in Downpatrick and Molly Brown’s in Newtownards. They paid £4.3m for a portfolio of seven former Botanic Inns bars, which had a total guide price of £4.675m. Their winning bid was understood to have been £1m more than the next highest offer.

Restaurants and bars in Leeds Lumiere site plans: The new owners of the former Lumiere site in Leeds have unveiled their revised plans for the location, which include restaurants and bars, as well as space for up to 2,500 workers, in a 225,000 sq ft project over 11 floors, for a pre-application presentation to city planners. The ground floor would be the home to bar/restaurant users, with a small amount of retail space, which would open on to the street and also into a proposed winter garden. A consortium of private investors bought the 1.5-acre site between Wellington Street and Whitehall Road for £5.2m in August. The site was originally going to be developed in 2008, but the economic slump put the original plan for a residential development on hold.

Malhotra Group in £500,000 refurbishment at Scalinis restaurants: The Newcastle upon Tyne-based, family-run leisure, property and care company Malhotra Group is spending £500,000 on a cosmetic overhaul of its two Scalinis restaurants, one on Osborne Road, Jesmond and the other at the Three Mile Inn in Gosforth. The interior refurbishment, designed by the brand specialist Dakota International, are part of plans for full renovations across the company’s leisure arm, and will continue with refurbs at Louis’s restaurant in Jesmond, the Butchers Arms in Byker and the Grey Street Hotel in Newcastle in the new year. The restaurants, which will remain open for business during the refurbishments, will take on a more chic Italian theme, inspired by Milan, according to the company’s chief operating officer, Atul Malhotra, who said: “We decided to move away from the previous Mediterranean image towards a more high-end Milan inspired vibe, with plush interiors and an eclectic mix of images and photography to portray the charm and authenticity of old Italy then, and as it is now. We have also created a brand new menu with authentic traditional Italian options, with homemade sauces and dough created by our head chefs. Our Italian-born manager at Jesmond has helped to recreate secret family recipes and inspired many of the ideas for the menus, as well as keeping some much loved classics. We aim to invest around £43m in our leisure arm over the next five years, and Scalinis is the first of our renovations to further our commitment to enhancing the Newcastle restaurant scene.” The company announced recently that all Malhotra holdings have been consolidated into one formal group, which in due course will obtain PLC status.

Pop-up bar opens in Manchester coffee shop: A pop-up bar called Neukölln, after the trendy district in Berlin, opened last night (Thursday) in the Caffeine & Co coffee shop in Spinningfields, Manchester. Neukölln opens when the coffee shop shuts, and runs from 6pm to 11pm, Thursday to Sundays until the new year. Beers will include Jever Pilsner, Erdinger Weisse, and Nogne Pale Ale from Norway, and the food will include bar snacks, and a hot slow-cooked daily special. Claire Howells from Neukölln and Caffeine & Co, which has a total of three coffee shops in Manchester, said: “We love a value night out and Neukölln wants to give people great simple food, paired with some of the world’s best booze in a well designed space. The price for a meal with drinks will be around £20 per head or less, which we hope will appeal both to the people of Spinningfields and the rest of Manchester.” Also in Spinningfields, Living Ventures’ Long Bar has added a wooden wing on one side to house The Bierhaus, a Bavarian-style beer hall with steins, frankfurters, pretzels and a German brass band.

East Midlands microbrewers export beers to China: A new company, British Craft Beers, is helping microbrewers in the East Midlands export their beers to China with support from the University of Nottingham. The university’s brewing science department worked with the Nottingham-based, EU-funded Food and Drink Innovation Network to help microbrewers in the region undertake work to develop beers which were suitable for export, helping them to increase their quality control processes in a bid for greater consistency and shelf life. After research by a local firm, Clements Marketing, into the Chinese market which saw samples from six East Midlands craft brewers, including Thornbridge and Peak Ales, distributed to importers, shops, bars and restaurants in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Ningbo and Chengdu, Alan Clements, managing director of Clements Marketing, and food and drink specialist Richard Worrall formed British Craft Beers. The company has now sent out its first exports of beer to merchants in Shanghai and in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Worrall said: “Although British craft beers are currently not very well known, with very few of these beers being sold in China at the moment, there is a clear opportunity in this market for sweeter beers, mild and dark stouts and porters. In addition, the Chinese show a clear liking for some of the fruit-flavoured beers.”

Corbin and King to open Vienna-inspired restaurant: Rex Restaurant Associates, the company run by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King that operates some of London’s best-known restaurants, including The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Colbert and Brasserie Zedel, is to open a new restaurant on Marylebone High Street influenced by early 20th century Vienna. The restaurant, to be called Fischer’s, occupies a 3,000 sq ft space previously run as Cotidie. It is expected to open in spring 2014. Josh Leon, associate director at DCL, which acquired the unit for Rex, said: “It’s a fabulous property occupying a great location on one of the most sought after streets in the capital. We recommended the site to Rex who saw the opportunity, and we brokered a deal for them with the owner. We also handled the rent review negotiations with the landlord, Howard de Walden, with whom we have a great relationship already. Late last year we brokered the deal for the hugely successful 28:50 in nearby Marylebone Lane which I know Howard de Walden are particularly pleased with. I have no doubt that Fischer’s will be fabulous when it opens, becoming another of Rex’s instant classics and will provide a very useful dining option for this part of town.”

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